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Are Garlic Presses Tools of Satan?

  • l

The anti-garlic press faction: Andre Bourdain, Marcella Hazan, my boyfriend, et. al.

The garlic-press-permissible faction: Julia Child, Jeffery Steingarten, my mother, et. al.

What do you guys think? I used to think the 'press makes it bitter' theory was pseudoscience. But then I read Harold McGee's 'On Food and Cooking" wherein he explains that garlic's flavor results from the mixing of the contents of different kinds of cells when it's cut or crushed--unlike, say, ginger which has ginger flavored juice in all its cells. McGee doesn't weigh in on the garlic press issue one way or the other, but it stands to reason that crushing garlic through a press might affect the taste.

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  1. I have never personally noticed any difference between garlic that I've pressed, smashed, or chopped.

    I prefer to chop or mince because I'm too lazy to clean out the press, but occasionally I'll press if it's going into a salad dressing or something where I don't want to find chewy bits. Again, I've never noticed that my pressed garlic is any more or less bitter than chopped/minced.

    1. j
      JK Grence (Cosmic Jester)

      It all dpends on what you want to do with the garlic. It's like how an artist would use one brush for wide swaths of color and another one for small details. Sometimes the knife will be the better choice, other times the garlic press.

      Personally, I can't tell the difference. Maybe one of these days I'll try doing some pasta aglio e olio with minced garlic, then with pressed.

      1. Personally, I've always thought that garlic presses are way underrated -- I use mine all the time, and I've got dibs on my mom's press when she finally decides to hang up her apron. There's something really satisfying about that moment when the clove gives in and gets smushed.....

        -- Paul

        1. j
          Janet A. Zimmerman

          The one circumstance where I notice a difference is when I'm sauteeing -- then the pressed garlic is much more prone to burning, especially if it's in the oil all by itself. So I never press garlic for a stir fry, for instance, but I do if I'm making a sauce.

          If you want a stronger garlic flavor, you'll get it by pressing rather than mincing. BUT, when mincing, if you use the method of smashing the clove with the side of a knife before mincing, you're basically doing the same thing to the clove as pressing.

          As far as clean-up goes, if you press garlic with the skin on, the sticky residue is contained by the skin and clean up is much easier -- you can just pop out the used-up clove.

          1. Bitter flavors in garlic are because it is overripe and starting to sprout. If there is any type of a shoot forming or green in the garlic it will be bitter.
            Jonathan